Election

School Board Elections Update: Douglas, Jefferson Counties Head in Opposite Directions

Many of the parents at the Douglas County School Board meeting on October 26 were upset about in-class masking requirements.
Many of the parents at the Douglas County School Board meeting on October 26 were upset about in-class masking requirements. CBS4 Denver file photo
Colorado's November 2 ballot included three statewide measures roundly rejected by voters — and Denverites had to consider thirteen other proposals. But residents of dozens of other municipalities had plenty of their own localized issues to consider, as evidenced by the Colorado Secretary of State Office's election page, which lists 131 total contests — many of them the sort of school-board races that have become increasingly politicized in the age of COVID-19.

In Denver, a pair of school board races are still too close to call. But two other metro counties, Jefferson and Douglas, clearly headed in opposite directions with their school board votes. In Jeffco, a slate of candidates backed by the Jefferson County Education Association — Danielle Varda, Paula Reed and Mary Parker — are winning their races by what appear to be insurmountable leads (the results were last updated at 3:29 a.m. today, November 3). But in Douglas County, where county commissioners dumped the Tri-County Health Department over objections about COVID-related safety restrictions and masking in schools, the ultra-right quartet of Becky Myers, Mike Peterson, Christy Williams and Kaylee Winegar are on their way to victory.

The Douglas County development has a back-to-the-future feel. A decade ago, the Douglas County School Board was among the most conservative in the country, thanks in part to a controversial voucher proposal that allowed parents to use taxpayer dollars to enroll their kids at religious schools. The plan prompted a lengthy court fight that wasn't resolved until December 2017, when members of the board elected the previous month over the pro-voucher faction voted to end the program.

The pandemic brought new pressures to bear. After the new Douglas County Health Department tried to let parents opt out of in-class masking, the Douglas County School Board took the issue to court and won; a temporary restraining order against the DCHD edict is currently in place. But anger among parents of a certain ideological persuasion has been growing, and the national media noticed. On Election Day, Fox News published a piece that tied disease demagoguery to another hot-button issue; the headline reads: "Douglas County, Colorado, voters say COVID-19 protocols, critical race theory decisive factors in election."


The victories for the conservative Dougco quartet contrast sharply with what went down in Jefferson County, demonstrating again the vast differences that exist within the Denver metro area.

Here are the latest vote totals for the Jefferson and Douglas County school board races:

Jefferson County School District R-1 Director — District 1

Jeffrey Wilhite: 65,483 votes, 41.54 percent
Danielle Varda: 92,173 votes, 58.46 percent

Jefferson County School District R-1 Director — District 2

David C. Johnson: 18,306 votes, 11.68 percent
Theresa Shelton: 59,840 votes, 38.17 percent
Paula Reed: 78,638 votes, 50.16 percent


Jefferson County School District R-1 Director — District 5

Kathy Miks: 69,764 votes, 44.60 percent
Mary Parker: 86,664 votes, 55:40 percent

Douglas County School District Re 1 School Board Director — District B

Mike Peterson: 53,813 votes, 56.07 percent
Juli Watkins: 42,170 votes, 43.93 percent

Douglas County School District Re 1 School Board Director — District D

Ruby Martine: 40,022 votes, 41.75 percent
Justin V. Matthew: 4,067 votes, 4.24 percent
Becky Meyers: 51,770 votes, 54.01 percent

Douglas County School District Re 1 School Board Director — District E

Kevin Leung: 43,901 votes, 45.75 percent
Christy Williams: 52,059 votes, 54.25 percent

Douglas County School District Re 1 School Board Director — District G

Krista Holtzmann — 43,733 votes, 45.25 percent
Kaylee Winegar: 52,479 votes, 54.75 percent
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts